Cape Cod Paperback – Jun 1972
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"Cape Cod is Thoreau's sunniest, happiest book. It bubbles over with jokes, puns, tall tales, and genial good humor. . . . Unquestionably the best book that has ever been written about Cape Cod, and it is the model to which all new books about the Cape are still compared."--Walter Harding, The Days of Henry Thoreau
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Robert Pinsky is Professor of English at Boston University and an editor of the weekly online magazine "Slate". He is the author of many books of poetry and literary criticism. He served two terms as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, 1997-2000. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product Description
Inside This Book(Learn More)
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WISHING to get a better view than I had yet had of the ocean, which, we are told, covers more than two-thirds of the globe, but of which a man who lives a few miles inland may never see any trace, more than of another world, I made a visit to Cape Cod in October, 1849, another the succeeding June, and another to Truro in July, 1855; the first and last time with a single companion, the second time alone. Read the first page
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
Top Customer Reviews
I know it's Thoreau and I know his work is revered but this was just not what I expected at all.
As another reviewer has stated at Amazon.com, in his one star review, it's good for putting someone to sleep, but in his case, not good, as he was driving at the time while listening to the audio version! ;-)
I also thought there would be a lot more photos of Cape Cod included in this Kindle book. Very few overall.
Deleted from my kindle already.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I've learned that not every book is right for this way of life. The perfect desert island book has to celebrate the place you are in, not transport you. It should offer a tinge of society, because, after all, a human is a social animal, but it should not make you yearn achingly for what has been left behind nor should you be so repelled by it that you will never fit in again when you leave the island (you always leave the island). It should have some narrative sweep to withstand the competition of the seascape. It should make you think, at least a little: you want the stress to wash out to sea, not the little grey cells.
Cape Cod by Henry David Thoreau is the benchmark by which I've chosen beach material for several years. it is the quintessential celebration of littoral life. If you are on the beach, you appreciate it all the more; if you are not, well, at least you know vividly what you are missing. There is drama, as in the specter of villagers racing to the shore at the news of a shipwreck. There is information, as in what part of the clam not to eat, how the Indians trapped gulls for food, how a lighthouse really works. There is Thoreau's contagious respect for solitude, his occasional crankiness, and that magic trick of his that can suck in high school sophomores and get them through his books without so much as a whimper.
There is one flaw to Cape Cod: brevity. It lasts about a day and a half on the Robinson Crusoe plan. This is not to say that it does not withstand re-reading, it does, but at some point after you have committed it to memory, you may wish for the collected works of Shakespeare and move onto the Bard's beach play, The Tempest.
1) While all other editions are based on Thoreau's journal entries from only his first three visits to the Cape, this edition includes an epilogue compiling Thoreau's notes from his fourth and final visit, in which he traveled south to Chatham and Monomoy.
2) This is the only edition to translate the many, many Greek and Latin phrases Thoreau includes throughout the work, and it is also the only edition to provide illustrations, maps, and sidenotes in-text.
3) This is the only indexed edition ever created.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for fans of both Cape literature and Thoreau in general.
Thoreau's "Cape Cod" is different in tone in theme from his earlier books. The tone is leisurely and light. Instead of solitude or the wild woods, the picture that remains with me from this book is that of a long walk, or, as Thoreau puts it, a "ramble" through the sand and dunes of Cape Cod. The book is picturesque, full of humor and wry observation. Thoreau unforgettably describes the ocean, in its storms, vicissitudes, and moments of peace, the fish and the fishermen, the sands, birds, plants and lighthouses of Cape Cod, and the people. I have visited portions of the Masachusetts coast, but I have never been to Cape Cod. Thoreau took me there in his book.
The book is arranged into ten chapters. It opens with a description of the shipwreck of the St John on a rock off the Cape. Thoreau then describes a ride by coach across the Cape. But the heart of the book lies in the following chapters in which Thoreau with a companion walks the 30 mile beach from Nauset Harbor to Provincetown with many stops and diversions along the way. I felt the salt air and saw the fishermen and the sandy beach as I walked with Thoreau.
The most vivid characterization in the book is in the chapter "The Wellfleet Oysterman", as Thoreau describes a grizzled, taciturn, and ancient native of Cape Cod and his family who offer him hospitality for the night. Another memorable chapter involves the description of the Highland Lighthouse, no longer standing, and its keeper. The stops with the Oysterman and the Lighthouse punctuate Thoreau's long walks through the day over the beach and his meditiations about and descriptions of what he finds there.
Thoreaus walk ended at Provincetown, on the northernmost portion of Cape Cod, with its wood walkway, shanty houses, and ever-present scenes of fishermen, boats, and drying fish. Thoreau offers what I found an affectionate portrait of these hardy fishermen and their families. Following a description of what he found at Provincetown, Thoreau offers a great deal of historical background on the exploration of the Cape, from the Pilgrims reaching back to earlier French, Icelandic, and English explorers.
Thoreau's "Cape Cod" is a worthy companion to his books describing his experiences inland, on Walden Pond and on the rivers and woods of New England and Maine. It is beautifuly written with unforgettable descriptive passages. It made me want to get up and go from my life in the city, and over 150 years after Thoreau wrote, wander and walk for myself along the dunes and sands of Cape Cod.
I bought this edition based on the review about the very helpful index. Please be careful about what edition you are actually buying. Many of these reviews are about different editions. I bought the BiblioLife paperback book with a picture of the green bicycle on the cover. I just received it and there is NO INDEX.
It looks like the original text from an original printing (with smaller physical dimensions) was photocopied page by page and put into this paperback book. This will do the trick but I am a little disappointed and wish I had bought a different edition.
It is confusing on amazon because when you click "look inside" it shows an index, with a tiny note saying the "look inside" refers to a different edition.